US Behind Bloody Oplan Bantay Laya, Book Reveals

The US forces’s participation in relief and rescue operations, medical missions, classroom building etc. are all part of the US’ COIN strategy in the Philippines. 

Even the programs of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) are part of the US foreign policy’s “3Ds” – defense, diplomacy and development. “The USAID facilitates the participation of US troops for so-called civil military operations with its health and education programs,” according to the USAID Philippines website.

OBL’s Death Squads, US Tactic

The killings of activists were done by death squads, usually motorcycle-riding men wearing masks or vigilante groups created by the AFP. Karapatan has noted the resurgence of death squads in the Arroyo regime’s OBL. 

The use of death squads is not new in the Philippines. In fact, it is the US government that brought the concept of death squads as a COIN measure.  

An article by the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (Eiler) titled “Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines: Shades of El Salvador, Vietnam” notes that the renewed attacks on activists in 2004 came after former US ambassador to the Philippine John Negroponte declared that the Philippines is one of the priority projects of the US’ Counter Terrorism Center. 

Negroponte was accused of utilizing death squads in suppressing national liberation movements in Latin America. He also served as US ambassador to Iraq from June 2004 to April 2005. Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., who earned the moniker “The Butcher,” led the Philippine contingent to Iraq in 2004. 

Arroyo’s executive secretary Eduardo Ermita also worked with Negroponte in the 60s in Vietnam, during the implementation of Operation Phoenix. 

Eiler’s article draws interesting similarities between Oplan Phoenix and OBL. The US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Oplan Phoenix resulted in the killing of 21, 578 Vietnamese citizens between January 1968 and May 1971.

US Funding the OBL

The book also reveals that the US government pledged some $US 45 million for the Philippine Defense Reform Program (PDR), a product of the RP-US Joint Defense Assessment. According to the Department of National Defense, the PDR was “developed in line with the government’s thrust to suppress the[n] 37-year old communist insurgency and other serious threats to national security.” 

It is worth mentioning that the Philippines received at least $197.24 million dollars from the US to fund its military and police operations.

US Protecting Its Interests

Paul Quintos’s article “US Imperial Policing” unmasks the real intentions of the US government in its military interventions overseas.  

“The drive to control markets, raw materials, trade routes, and strategic basing for military operations against real and potential rival powers—these remain the objective interests of US imperialism in waging war, occupying other lands and establishing puppet governments in the third world,” Quintos wrote. 

The Philippines remains important to the US for the same reasons.  

Quintos also cites different narratives used by the US to justify military aggression overseas, from the 19th century to the present. Through the years, these “justifications” had been discredited one after the other and have revealed the US government’s unchanging goals. 

Eiler’s “Militarism, Terrorism and Political Repression: Hallmarks of US Foreign Policy”  is also an interesting read. It reveals the brutality of the US military campaigns overseas since it has become a capitalist power.

Relevance Today

The book is relevant especially in the light of the extension of the OBL. 

Aquino is quickly bringing hopelessness to the victims and families of this bloody COIN program. Worse, the new president seems to follow her mother’s “total war” policy, which, like the OBL, unleashed terror on the Filipino people.

The recent pronouncements of US military support to the new administration are also signs of continuing US intervention in Philippine’s internal affairs. Aquino will likely repeat the mistakes of the past administrations: that brute force cannot quell insurgencies but helps in fanning revolutions.  (

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  1. Oplan Bantay Laya, COIN, FID, MILF, NPA. So much to digest for us ordinary Pnoys, chin to the grindstone–our little "sari-sari" store makes $1.50 a day, enough to buy rice and "ulam na gulay at tuyo." But the joy of raising a family as honest as possible. Yes without licking the boots of "capitalist" and a life style of low carbon footprint– PRICELESS and I hope,with prayers to all the saints, not too much Karmic retribution. My God, I hope the Pnoys in power realise there are simple things in life that are so meaningful, yet a little more honest. Can't take even a penny to the next life. I hope my kids turn out OK, amidst so much negativity. And yes, I am a highly educated "poor" Pnoy.

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